Why did you create the VDESK integrated PTZ production system?
Rush Beesley: We always use the same criteria in determining our solutions portfolio. We identify particular market segments where people really need simple but powerful alternatives to what currently exists. Because there is such a high demand for multicamera content production from municipalities, houses of worship, sports, entertainment venues, presentations and classrooms, we focused on providing a solution with which a single person can produce high-quality content without the need for camera operators.
What makes VDESK different from other video production switchers?
While switcher functionality is at the core of our solution, the clear point of differentiation is the integration of sophisticated PTZ camera control. After all, a switcher is only a single component of what’s required to produce a multicamera show. We provide touchscreen shot selection using named and saved presets, with the ability to attach a lower-third name and title to any preset. With our automated camera and graphics TAKE function, once the operator touches a preset, the camera goes to the shot within about one second, automatically takes the shot, and fades the graphic on and off. That’s not just switching—that’s integrated production.
I see that VDESK comes with three different interfaces. What is the difference between the VDESK CLASSIC and VDESK PRODUCER interfaces?
The traditional CLASSIC interface supports nine named and saved presets per PTZ camera, with up to 12 cameras configured. PRODUCER is a significantly different interface that uses picture icons (“picons”) placed on a grayscale rendering of the production venue. To support unlimited presets, we created our exclusive DoubleTake PTZ camera configuration that consists of two cameras mounted side by side, with one of them used to create presets for every picon on the stage. These include pictures of participants and graphical icons called “extras” that represent individual musical instruments, groups of singers … virtually any object that the user places on the “stage.”
All the presets are “mapped” onto the second camera, which has a user-created mathematical offset to align the cameras. So the cameras just alternate between “preview” and “program,” with no restrictions on selecting any shot. It’s what we call “switcherless” production. Just touch the image of the shot you want and it’s on the air.
Recently you added a third VDESK interface that you call TalkingPoints. What makes this interface unique, and what is the advantage in including three interfaces with every VDESK?
We recognized the need for a better, more comprehensive way to capture presentations and lectures for streaming and viewing after the fact. We used the fundamental capability of VDESK, including PTZ camera control, auto-titling and picture-in-picture display, to aggregate the presenter, panelists, slideshow presentation and audience onto a single HD screen. We record MPEG-2 or H.264 in the VDESK, and stream live with Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.
Providing users with three interfaces lets them work the way they want, when they want, with a single system investment.